kaia kater

New Soul of Americana

A Montreal-born Grenadian-Canadian, Kaia Kater grew up between two worlds: her family’s deep ties to folk music and the years she spent soaking up Appalachian music in West Virginia. Her old-time banjo-picking skills, deft arrangements, and songwriting abilities have landed her in the spotlight in North America and the UK, garnering critical acclaim from outlets such as NPR, CBC Radio, Rolling Stone, BBC Music, and No Depression.

Kaia started her career early, crafting her first EP Old Soul (2013) when she was just out of high school. Since then, she’s gone on to release two more albums, Sorrow Bound (2015) and Nine Pin (2016). Her second album wove between hard-hitting songs touching on social issues like the Black Lives Matter movement (“Rising Down”) and more personal narratives speaking to life and love in the digital age (“Saint Elizabeth”). Nine Pin won a Canadian Folk Music Award, a Stingray Rising Star Award and sent Kaia on an 18-month touring journey from Ireland to Iowa, including stops at The Kennedy Center, Hillside Festival and London's O2 Shepherd's Bush. For her third album, Grenades (October 2018, Folkways/acronym Records), she took a decidedly different direction, choosing to lean into a wider array of sounds and styles, in order to convey a wider array of emotions and topics, most notably her paternal ancestry.  Grenades has been nominated for a 2019 JUNO award for Contemporary Roots Album of the Year.




Top News

the scuttlebutt

Kater is rapt, inquisitive, straining for intimate, embodied understanding that transcends mere familiarity.
— NPR, First Listen
At twenty-five, banjo player and songwriter Kaia Kater is one of folk music’s most promising storytellers...
— Dacey Orr Sivewright, Garden & Gun
Kater favors vivid, sensory images and poetic language; she’s meditating on the ways that bodies absorb, carry and transmit memory.
— NPR, First Listen
Grenades...represents Kater’s breakthrough moment as a vital roots storyteller.
— Jonathan Bernstein, Rolling Stone
Musically, it’s supper club fare, its silky, sensual sound persuading listeners to let down their guards...
— NPR, First Listen
One of the most powerful performances at this year’s festival came from Kaia Kater, a young old-time singer whose historically-minded music works to reshape and reanimate folk music from the inside out.
— Jonathan Bernstein & Patrick Doyle, Rolling Stone
In today’s landscape, Kater’s voice isn’t just timely, it’s necessary. Being young, black and female makes her a triple threat of relevance. But being excellent is what makes her an imperative.
— Bao Le-Huu, Orlando Weekly
Twenty-three-year-old Kaia Kater from Québec studied mountain music in West Virginia and writes songs from the here and now. Her second album manages to triangulate bluegrass, Nina Simone, and Toni Morrison.
— Neil Spencer, The Guardian
Kater has made one of the most daring, inventive traditional records in recent years, at a time when Appalachian music is experiencing a revival.
— Jonathan, Bernstein, American Songwriter Magazine
Her newest album is Nine Pin and it’s an exercise in power of simplicity. While there are other musicians dotting the album with everything from trumpet to electric guitar, the strength comes from Kater: the low, deep emotion in her voice and the contrasting twang of her banjo.
— JamBase
Kater is one of the most exciting roots musicians to come along in years.
— Garden & Gun
...Kater’s music is somehow ancient and brand new at the same time.
— Tom Power, CBC Radio 2
...plaintive, mesmerizing...writes and performs with the skill of a folk-circuit veteran...
— Rolling Stone
Nine Pin is unlike anything you’ll hear this year.
— Rachel Cholst, No Depression
You want some authenticity in your folk music or bluegrass - I give you Kaia Kater.
— John Apice, No Depression
Sorrow Bound is a remarkably assured debut album which both honors tradition and declared Kater’s credentials as a distinctive, original artist.
— Steve Hunt, fRoots Magazine UK
I have just seen the Ola Belle Reed of the 21st Century.
— Art Menius, No Depression/The ArtsCentre, Carrboro, NC

upcoming appearances